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How to Live an Eco-friendly Lifestyle

We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change around the world, whether in the form of extreme heat, forest fires, severe storms, or other extreme weather events. Emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are the primary contributor to climate change. One of the biggest misconceptions seems to be that only large organizations, like governments and corporations, have a role to play in reducing emissions and tackling this global issue.

In reality, individuals can have a huge impact through consumption choices and daily habits. There are so many options for being eco-friendly that it can be hard to know where to start. To avoid getting overwhelmed, start by focusing on one action that you can carry out daily, such as biking to work or using a reusable water bottle.

The actions that you can take will depend on your living situation. For example, if you're renting an apartment, you may not be able to upgrade to energy-efficient appliances, but you can still turn off lights when not in use.

In this blog post, we provide tips for switching to an eco-friendly lifestyle in areas like transportation, clothing, and energy use.

Choose Sustainable Transportation Options

The transportation sector accounts for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, with nearly half of those emissions coming from light-duty vehicles like cars and vans. We can all do our part by choosing clean transportation options like walking and biking for day-to-day trips. If you need to use a car, you can reduce emissions through strategies like buying an electric car and carpooling. Here are some tips for reducing your transportation emissions:

  • When possible, walk, bike, or take public transit

  • If you must own a car, look for one that is fuel-efficient, hybrid, or electric

  • Try carpooling to reduce the number of cars on the road

  • Drive more efficiently by combining trips and avoiding idling

  • For short trips, take the train or bus instead of flying

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Through Your Diet

Eating is an activity that we do so often that we may not reflect on the consequences of our food choices. However, food production is responsible for approximately a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. What we eat matters. For example, plant-based foods typically have a lower carbon footprint than meat and dairy. Here are some ways that you can make your diet more eco-friendly:

  • Reduce your consumption of meat and other animal products, like dairy and eggs

  • Choose responsible seafood options

  • Buy produce that's local, organic, and in-season

  • Try growing your own food

Make Sustainable Clothing Choices

The clothes that we wear have a significant impact on the planet. The fashion industry uses more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined. Other environmental consequences of fashion include greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, deforestation, and waste. Here are some tips to mitigate your clothing's carbon footprint:

  • Buy fewer items of clothing

  • Rent items that you will wear infrequently

  • Opt for second-hand and vintage clothing

  • Organize a clothing swap with friends

  • Do research to find eco-conscious clothing brands that are transparent about their supply chain and materials

  • Take care of your clothes and try to repair any damage instead of replacing the item

Generate Less Waste

In 2018, Canada's diversion rate for solid waste was only 28%. The inefficient management of waste leads to numerous issues, including the waste of resources and pollution from landfills. When organic waste breaks down in landfills, it produces greenhouse gases like methane. Here are a few ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce:

  • Reduce food waste by planning your shopping and meals, storing food properly, and consuming it before it goes bad

  • Use reusable water bottles, containers, grocery bags, and other items

  • Reduce the number of things that you buy and look for items with less packaging

  • When possible, reuse, repair, or donate items instead of disposing of them

  • Recycle and compost to reduce the amount of waste that you send to landfill

Reduce Energy Use

Did you know that, in Canada, the oil and gas production sector emits the largest quantity of greenhouse gases? Different provinces and territories use different power sources, some of which are cleaner than others. Nonetheless, using less energy is an easy way to reduce your energy bill and demand on the electricity grid. Here are some tips for cutting back on energy use:

  • Turn off lights when they're not in use

  • Unplug electronics when you're not using them to cut down on phantom power

  • Switch to energy-efficient products, like LED light bulbs

  • In the summer, open windows, close blinds, and run a fan instead of using the air conditioner

  • Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they're full

  • Hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer

Conserve Water

Globally, only 1% of water is available for drinking water. Canadians consume the second-highest amount of water per capita, after the United States. In 2019, the residential sector was responsible for just over half of potable water use in Canada. There's a lot that we can do to conserve this precious resource. Here are a few steps that you can take to conserve water:

  • Check for leaky taps and get them fixed

  • Install water-efficient products, like low-flow shower heads

  • Turn off the tap while shaving and brushing your teeth

  • Take shorter showers

  • When washing dishes and rinsing vegetables, plug the sink or use a wash basin instead of leaving the water running

  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge to avoid leaving the tap running until water is cool enough to drink

If you're an aspiring change maker under 30 looking to reduce your environmental impact, Thrive can help! Here are a few options to consider:

  • Join the Thrive Community to learn about impact careers, join SDG-related webinars, and connect with 400+ like-minded aspiring change makers from around the world (link)

  • Watch our webinar about leading an eco-friendly lifestyle to learn from professionals who work in sustainable fashion, transportation, and food (link)

  • Follow us on LinkedIn

Note that active members of the Thrive Community can gain rewards, including access to an online Leading a Minimalist & Sustainable Lifestyle course. This self-paced course covers concepts like mindfulness, minimalism, and our environmental footprint and includes exercises to put what you're learning into practice.

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